11 Facts About Veterans Day

11 Facts About Veterans Day Honoring Veterans at VMi New England

How much do you really know about this national holiday honoring those who have served our country?

Here are 11 Veterans Day facts in honor of the holiday celebrated in the United States on November 11th. Thank you to all those who have served!


When was Veterans Day first celebrated?
Originally called Armistice Day, Veterans Day was celebrated on Nov. 11, 1919, which was the first anniversary of the end of the fighting of World War I. The Allies and Germany agree to an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities,on the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. (Technically WWI did not officially end until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.)

Why do we celebrate Veterans Day?
President Woodrow Wilson said of that first observance in 1919, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” That purpose has not changed as today the purpose is still to honor those who have served our nation.

When did Veterans Day become a national holiday?
Although first observed in 1919, Congress did not make it official until 1938. IN 1954, the name changed to Veterans Day. In the 1970s the date moved around in November, causing confusion, and President Gerald Ford in 1975 signed a law placing the observance on Nov. 11 and there it has remained. For more details, please see the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs History of Veterans Day and the U.S. Army’s Center for Miliary History page on History of Veterans Day.

What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?
These two holidays are frequently confused but they are not the same. Memorial Day, celebrated in May, honors those who lost their lives in service to our country, and Veterans Day, celebrated in November, honors all who have served and focusing on thanking living service members, past and present. For the official answer, the Office of of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs explains, “Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.”

In what war did the largest number of Americans serve in the Armed Forces?
World War II saw more than 16 million Americans become service members, according to the 2009 Veterans Day Teacher Resource Guide. As of June 2013, CNN reported that 1.7 million WII vets were still alive.


Why do we spell it Veterans Day? Shouldn’t there be an apostrophe?
“Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an ‘s’ at the end of ‘veterans’ because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans,” explains the Office of of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Is there a national ceremony?
In keeping with the honoring of the timing of the armistice ending the carnage of WWI, a Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery. The VA website says that ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.


Which state is home to the largest number of veterans?
California has the most, with 2 million veterans calling the Golden State home. Texas and Florida are next, with 1.6 million vets in each state, reports the Census Bureau.

How many of U.S. vets are female?
There are 1.6 million female veterans, as of 2011, according to the Census Bureau.


How many veterans are there living in the United States?
The U.S. has 21.8 million veterans, according the the Census Bureau’s Snapshot of Our Nation’s Veterans.

Do veterans ever serve in more than one war?
Yes. More than 1.3 million of America’s living veterans have served in more than one conflict, and 54,000 have served in 3 wars – WWI, Korea and Vietnam – according to the Census Bureau’s Snapshot of Our Nation’s Veterans.


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